Its been so long since I posted on this blog. Lots of reasons, weather, life and what not.Somehow I decided to break the silence today! Why? To write about Bok choy.

Bok choy is a vegetable that belongs to the Cabbage family. It is an exotic vegetable which is getting more popular in India lately. Since it is an exotic vegetable and not available in the market quite easily, the only way to get it fresh is to grow it yourself. That’s not the only reason I grew. Story time..

It was my marriage anniversary. Me and wifey decided to go out for a dinner and the onus was on me to choose some place “nice”. I choose the restaurant and we get in. I run through the menu to choose and I see this Stir fry with bok choy, zucchini, mushroom, etc, etc. Somehow this gardening hobby makes you pay close attention to what the menu contains.. anyways..The item was priced like crazy and the rest of dishes weren’t so expensive. Looks like bok choy was the pricey one. I did order that dish ..That was enough to get me started on growing them. Gardening is so much fun when you grow stuff you don’t get outside when you want them. and in a months time, we had the veggie ready for harvest.

So with the bok choy growing at home, there is stir fry now and then.. and of course without the heavy price tag.

Now coming to the growing part. Bok choy is consumed for its leaf and swollen petiole.

Seed starting

Growing bok choy is very easy. Like most Brassicas, it is propagated from seeds. The seeds look like mustard seeds and readily germinate in a weeks time. The seeds are sown in a seed starting mix made by using straight cocopeat or cocopeat and compost in equal proportions. The tray is filled with media and gently tapped to remove air pockets. Sow the seeds at the rate of 2 per cell and water it lightly. Then cover the tray with a polythene. Periodically check for new growth. In about 4 days they will start emerging. Once you see a sign of new growth, remove the polythene bag and keep the tray where it will get good sunlight.

Bok choy can be planted in place that receives moderate sunlight. Though they prefer full sun, they do well in moderate light as well. Once germinated they should look like below.

22 April 2011 – Seeds germinated

Bok choy seedlings in tray

14 May 2011 – 3 weeks old.

Instead of thinning the seedlings to just one, I left them growing in the cell and harvested the first batch as part of thinning :-D.Here is how they looked 3 weeks later.

Bok choy 3 week old

Transplanting:

Bok choy can be either direct seeded or transplanted. In either case, leave 6-8 inches of space between plants. They can be easily grown in trays. Choose trays of depth 6-8inches. I transplanted them wherever I could find space in my garden. Few in pots, in grow bags and in Hydroponic NFT systems( More about this later).

It can be growing in soil/soilless mix. For soil, use a mix of red soil, manure and cocopeat/sand in equal proportions. For soilless use a mix of cocopeat and compost 50-50 and for hydroponics, just cocopeat or water if using NFT/DFT.

19 May 2011

Bok choy transplanted

Fertilizing:

Bok choy is consumed as a leafy vegetable and it needs a good dose of nitrogen rich fertilizer for a good healthy growth. A fertilizer that has high nitrogen is recommended for healthy green leaves. Organic folks can use chicken manure/horse manure. These two manures are good source of nitrogen. One can also use seed meals such as neem cake, pongamia cake etc as manures. These manures act as a fertilizer and repel pests as well.

Harvesting:

Bok choy comes to harvest pretty fast. They are ready for harvest just 40-45 days. Two ways of harvesting. You can either keep taking the leaves in the outer side or uproot the whole plant. Suit yourself.

27 May 2011

1 month old Bok Choy plant

bok choy in grow bag

Pests:

If you think the bok choy is only yours, think again. You got company!. Pests are common for bokchoy are aphids and mites. Both of them can be controlled by neem sprays. Plant marigold plants in between plants this will control mites to some extent.

Remember, I hinted above about NFT/DFT. When I transplanted the seedlings, I planted some of them into the hydroponic NFT/DFT system I had setup sometime back. It uses PVC pipes with recirculating water to grow plants. The plants are held by netpots that sit on the holes made on top of the pipe. Nutrient solutions runs continuously in the pipe. I planted it on May 25th.

25 May 2011

bok choy in hydroponics NFT

In just about 2 weeks time from transplanting into the hydroponics setup, the plant has grown very well . The nutrient solution has worked wonders and you can see the effect on healthy leaves. It is almost ready for harvest.

12 Jun 2011

bok choy in hydroponics NFT system

Since the medium is water for this plant, they roots grow into the water that is circulating. Good white roots are sigh of healthy plant. You can see the roots coming out the netpot. Behind is the setup.

Bok choy NFT root formation

From seed to plate, here is bok choy in all its glory.It is better to harvest and use it immediately else it looses its crispiness. That was fun isn’t it?

Harvested Bok choy

Summary

Bok choy
Propagation Seeds
Seed sowing depth 0.5 cm
Seed germination 4-7 days
Planting method Transplanted/Direct seeded
Spacing 6-8 inches
Days to maturity 45 days

Thats all I have for now. In this post, I introduced an NFT system in hydroponics. For the curious minds, this is just the trailer. Stay tuned. There is a multi part series on hydroponics ranging from basics to building your own systems is on its way. Till then, Ciao

GG

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